when are college applications due
when are college applications due

Are you overwhelmed by college admissions? You’re not alone, especially if you’re wondering, “When are college applications due?”

According to Pew Research Center, there were around 10 million college applications submitted in 2017 and the number keeps growing. 

You are not the only struggling college applicant. Thousands of students are scrambling to apply.

College application deadlines can range from November to February for Fall admissions – and that’s before priority and scholarship deadlines.

Every college has deadlines, conditions, and exceptions. It’s difficult to find the facts when you’re overloaded with responsibilities. To make things harder, many colleges have multiple deadlines for specific programs.

Don’t worry! It seems more stressful than it needs to be.

Every college application – and scholarship – is simple to understand once you know the basics.

Do you know the answer to the question, “When are college applications due?” If you answered “no,” then don’t panic. Let’s take a look at what your deadlines are.

Go for Early Decision and Early Action

It’s simple: colleges love an early application.

A lot of colleges offer benefits for applying early. They will list an earlier deadline and promise to evaluate your application sooner.

If you apply by an early action deadline, you are competing against fewer applicants and receiving the college’s decision before regular applicants.

This is a great opportunity to get a head start on college planning. 

Plus, some colleges offer application fee waivers for applying early. Who doesn’t love a free application?

The early action deadline is usually in mid to late November, but check your college’s deadlines for a specific date.

Don’t confuse early action with early decision.

If you apply for early decision, you will usually get the same benefits as early action. However, you have to accept or reject the college’s offer letter more quickly than regular applicants.

Have you decided on your dream school? Then go for it! 

Otherwise, don’t force yourself to decide before you’re ready.

Regular vs Rolling Admissions: What’s the Difference?

Every college has regular admission with a deadline. This deadline is the final one, so be careful.

Most people submit their applications for the regular admission period. 

It’s fine if you do too! 

Some early application deadlines are too soon and stressful, so regular admission is the right decision. You might have to retake a test or polish an essay. Worst of all, teachers might be slacking with your recommendation letters.

If you’re not ready as early action deadlines come around, don’t send a bad application. Work hard and submit it before regular admission deadlines.

Regular college deadlines are usually due in January or February. You can find specific dates on your college’s website – but this isn’t the problem.

Some colleges go by rolling admissions. This is a common case for transfer students.

Think of rolling admissions as first come, first serve. Colleges will make admission decisions as the applications are submitted. 

This is important. The deadline for your application will have a wide range for rolling admissions, but the number of seats available will get smaller as time passes. If a college has rolling admissions, an earlier application is better. 

Much like early action, you are more likely to be accepted when they don’t have as many applications.

List Your Colleges

Before you apply, you have to know where to apply.

There are a few factors to consider when picking schools: 

  • Location
  • Application requirements
  • Tuition cost
  • Campus size
  • Housing
  • Program and major
  • Scholarships and financial aid

These are basic factors that are important for every college applicant.

Remember that you shouldn’t apply to one college. Apply to a variety of colleges so that you have options.

You should apply to around 4 to 8 colleges – the exact number depends on your situation.

If you’re worried about application fees, focus on application quality over quantity. If you’re applying to competitive colleges, apply to more colleges. 

Most importantly, have a backup college that will likely accept you. 

Look at your local community college for your backup. Community colleges are cheap, accepting, and practical. You can also start at a community college and then transfer.

For the cost, don’t let high tuition scare you. If you qualify for scholarships or other financial aid, the most expensive college may become your cheapest option.

Make this list as soon as possible, especially if you’re in high school. Once you make your list, you can start touring colleges. Your school might give you a day off to do it!

Watch For Scholarship Deadlines

College application deadlines aren’t the only thing to consider. There are tons of scholarships offered by and outside of colleges with deadlines.

Don’t be afraid to aim high. Scholarships can give you the chance to go to pricier colleges.

On college websites, they have a list of scholarships that they offer. Look for scholarships that you’re eligible for.

Search for scholarships outside of the college. There are endless lists of scholarships across the Internet. 

Focus on scholarships with more specific criteria relating to you. There are several diversity- and program-specific scholarships that can add up to a lot of money.

Grab Your Supplies Sooner Than You Think

Do you have everything ready for your college applications? If not, you should start now.

Every college has different requirements, but there are a few things that never change. You’ll need your transcript, your SAT or ACT score, recommendation letters, and essays.

Your transcript is the easiest to time. You only need to ask your counselor to send it over and then you’re done.

Before you ask your counselor to send your transcripts, take a quick look at your GPA. Are you satisfied? 

If your GPA is lacking, wait another semester to send it. Boosting your GPA may be more important than an early application.

Next, look at your SAT or ACT score. 

Don’t test at the last minute. Give yourself time for a retake so that you’re not stuck with a bad score. 

Take both tests because you won’t know which test is best for you at first glance. Colleges consider both scores, but the tests have a very different layout and questions.

After deciding your test dates, consider your recommendation letters. Who will write a shining letter about your accomplishments?

This isn’t the only question to think about. You have to think about punctuality. Will this person write your recommendation letter before the deadline?

Recommendation letters can be a nerve-wracking step in the application process if you put them off. Ask for recommendation letters as soon as possible. 

Bonus tip: say the application deadline is earlier. People struggle with deadlines, so give them a grace period – but don’t tell them about it.

You’ve gathered everything you need: your transcript, test scores, and recommendation letters. You can almost submit your application. 

Essays are the last and most stressful step on the list. Get ready for writer’s block.

Essay Submission

Your admission essay looks scary, but there are steps to make it easier. If you follow these steps, you’ll write your essay quickly and maybe even easily.

Start by looking at the essay prompts. Most prompts have multiple questions, so focus on one question at a time. It may help to copy and paste the questions in your essay.

Sell yourself – but don’t lie. Keep your essay honest. Don’t tell a college you’re a quarterback when you’ve never touched a football.

If your essay feels bland, make sure you’re writing from the heart. College admissions boards know when an essay has no substance. Be excited about your accomplishments, and that will reflect in your essay.

Once you’re finished, have a teacher or counselor review your essay. 

Don’t skip this step! 

You’re too biased to see the flaws in your essay, so you need an outside perspective. Even professional writers need a second opinion.

Fill Out Your FAFSA

In all the confusion of essays, tests, and applications, don’t forget to apply for FAFSA.

FAFSA offers federal student aid. Depending on your financial situation, you may need FAFSA to afford college. 

You’ll need to fill out a FAFSA application on their website. The types of federal aid offered to you will depend on many factors like your state, family income, and citizenship status.

It’s easier to pick your college when you know your financial options, so consider applying for FAFSA before you accept a college offer. They offer grants, loans, and scholarships. Colleges also use FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for their scholarships.

FAFSA offers federal aid for financial need: the Pell Grant, federal work-study programs, and subsidized loans.  

  • The Pell Grant 

This grant can cover a lot of your college expenses. Pell Grant eligibility is the most difficult to meet, but it gives a large amount of aid that you don’t have to repay. This grant is only available for undergraduate students, and the grant amount varies depending on your financial need.

  • Federal Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs are available for both undergraduate and graduate students to work in exchange for federal aid. It’s usually a part-time job that pays minimum wage, but you might get lucky with a job related to your field of study.

  • Subsidized Loans

These loans are the most commonly offered form of federal aid offered for financial need. You will need to pay these loans back; but, unlike unsubsidized loans, they won’t build interest while you’re attending school.

While some financial aid is income-based, you should still apply for FAFSA to see your options. There are unsubsidized loans available with no income limit.

The deadline for a FAFSA application depends on the state and college, but the national deadline for the 2021-2022 academic year is June 30, 2022. Most states require your FAFSA application before the national deadline so keep that in mind.

Make A Deadline Timeline

Organization is key. How do you stay organized?

Make a timeline!

You should make a list of your deadlines in a notebook, on a Word document, on a sticky note over your bed – whatever works for you.

Next, make sections to keep your deadlines easy to understand. Organize your deadlines by date to create your timeline.

This will help with deadline anxiety and refocus your mind, so don’t underestimate the power of an organized list. 

Make a Pros and Cons List

With four kinds of deadlines, it can be confusing to decide which one is best for you.

Everyone is different, so make the best decision for you. If your mind is racing with the possibilities, make a pros and cons list.

Here are questions to consider:

  • Do you know your first college choice?
  • Do you need to retake your SATs or ACTs?
  • Does the deadline affect your scholarship eligibility?
  • Does your GPA need work?
  • Are applications causing you too much stress?
  • Are you worried about application fees?
  • Are you confident in your college essays?

Your answers can help you determine the right course of action. Answer the questions and then divide your answers into a pros and cons list for each kind of deadline.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule. If you have a unique circumstance, add it to the list.

When are College Applications Due?

We’ve explored application deadlines. When are college applications due?

That answer is up to you.

You’ve looked at the college deadlines. You’ve made your pros and cons list. Now that you have the information, the choice is in your hands.

The most important thing is to apply by the regular deadline. If you don’t apply by the regular deadline, competitive programs may not consider your application.

Do you have more questions about college?

Bookmark our blog for more college admission and budget tips.

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